Day 8: (23.5 miles) Our alarm went of early today -5:30 am- to do our best to get a good start before the sun took its toll. We had made overnight oats, so breakfast was quick and easy. We packed up and hit the road by 6:30am making our way back to route 78 which we followed all day. We were fortunate that the clouds lingered the majority of the morning which meant it stayed a bit cooler than anticipated. We pedaled into North Algodones Dunes Wilderness area and were immediately surrounded by expansive sand dunes. 3 miles down a side road we found Gecko Campground, a primitive site with pit toilets and no running water. Bracing for the oncoming heat of the day, we unpacked what little we needed to, to hide in the shade and move as little as possible until the sun went down. Shortly after we began reading a man on a road bike pedaled up which was strange in an area dominated by ATVS or OHVS as they call them here. He offered us respite in the shade of his 5th wheel as an alternative to relaxing in the shade of the cement outhouse building. Thanking him for his offer, he departed and we napped and read for the next couple of hours until he returned in his truck, introduced himself as Tony, and unloaded his truck with folding chairs and a cooler full of beverages. His generosity was flooring and we felt well refreshed and rejuvenated by his offerings. We made dinner, read, and enjoyed a Coors Light, and soon Tony returned, this time on his Dune Buggy, inviting us to use his outside shower while he was away exploring the sands. We took him up on the offer, dropped a note and a business card inviting him to follow our travels and thanked him for making our day- we would have said night too, but it’s early to bed for an even earlier morning tomorrow.
Day 9: (48.5 miles) We woke so early the moon was still shining like a spotlight over the dunes. We ate our oats, packed up and hit the road before the sun rose. As we continued to pedal through the dunes we snapped some photos of the sun rising. The “super bloom” this year is the best it’s been in 20 years, they say, so we’ve been sure to capture those blooms when we can. So far, sunrise has been the best. As we continued North East on the 78 our expectation of a mediocre climb followed by a mediocre decent to round out the day was contradicted early on by a climb that was long and very gradual followed by a “decent” that was really a series of rolling hills. Each one feeling steeper than the last. This would have been merely a nuisance if we weren’t pedaling through the 90-100-degree desert under a cloudless sky along a road with little to no shoulder, little more than a shrub casting pathetic shadows and the only breeze being those that trailed the semi-trucks and RV’s that flew by at 65 mph. Our only sanity came from our ample supply of water and good company. As we made our way we met Cyclists pedaling with a supported ACA tour. They originated from all over the world and one of their support staff, Brian, was interestingly from Rochester NY, Chris having grown up near there, this was strangely more exciting than some of the other foreign homes such as England and Scotland. We also met Bob. A 60 something year old Texan from Amarillo who purchased his very first bike to make the cross country trip from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL. Despite the hardships of the route and the weather, we settled into camp, relaxed, enjoyed a simple dinner, and a view of the Colorado river. Across the river- Arizona- Tomorrow’s objective.
Day 10: (28 Miles) It was a slow start this morning as it seemed neither of us wanted to get out of bed. Chris is still trying to kick an ongoing cold/chest congestion, and Shayna, well she’s never been one for mornings! We managed to get a move on and just as we were about to pedal off, two RV-ers nearby walked up and asked about our travels. We gladly shared our journey, stories, and hopes of an easy day. We were about to part ways when one asked if we’d be interested in a cup of coffee. Having not brewed our own in days due to early morning starts, we couldn’t’ pass it up. We came to find their names were Bryan and Mike. They drive out every year to go fishing on the Colorado river. This year, they said they seemed to be a little late as they haven’t had much luck catching anything. They were both interested in our trip, Brian so much so he grabbed a note pad to jot down our info. We happily gave him a card and encouraged him to follow us. We learned over coffee that Mike was an Engineman and Bryan a Mechanic in the NAVY. As we departed, Mike gave us some home grown avocados to take with us. Sophie gave us a bark (their dog- who never did warm up to us), and we were on our way. Bryan snapped a photo as we pedaled into the sunrise. About two miles in we saw Bob again, coming out of another camp. He said he was sucked in after his much anticipated Gatorade purchase. He was enthusiastic as ever about the day. He was headed for Quartzsite, but we told him we wouldn’t be going quite that far. As we pedaled we watched an absolutely inspirational man pedal on into the Horizon. His words that have stuck with us- “everyday I get a little stronger, and everyday gets a little easier”. We continued on to Route 78 until it connected to Hobsonway to carry us into Blythe. There we stopped at a Smart and Final (gold mine!!) to stock up on some groceries. We shared a Little Cesar’s $5 hot and ready pizza, and carried on to our destination of River Breeze RV Resort. Like many of the towns over the last few days, Ehrenberg, at first sight, looked a little worse for ware, but arriving to the RV park, we quickly realized this was going to be a great stop. We arrived at 12:20 pm, disappointingly we forgot to check the clock as the manager told us yesterday they were closed from 12:00-2:00pm, so we meandered up the road for a restroom and some shade. Once we checked in we hung out in the pool, did a load of laundry in a real washer & dryer, set up our tent on real grass, and even got to cook dinner on a real stove. To celebrate St. Patty’s day, we bought some Mich Ultras from the Local “Laundry-Mall” (General store and laundry mat) and drank them overlooking the other side of the Colorado River.